For a long time cryogenics seemed a subject out of science fiction science experiments and was little taken seriously in science. However, much more than freezing people to try to bring them back to life, this is a fairly old technique that has several applications in medicine. From cancer treatment to embryo and stem cell preservation, check out six experiments below that help tell the story of cryogenics. 1. James Arnott and his experiments with tumors – 1845
James Arnott was an English physician and one of the forerunners of cryotherapy. He was the first to use extreme cold to destroy tissues and in 1819 used cryotherapy to freeze breast and uterine tumors during the treatment of cancer patients. In addition to having developed his own equipment for his treatments, Arnott is known to have performed the first cryosurgery in 1845. Even today, cryotherapy is used to treat various types of cancer.2. The first attempt to freeze a person – 1965
Photo of a cryogenic chamber (1966). (Source: SFGATE)
In 1965, Wilma Jean McLaughlin almost became the first person frozen cryogenically. After she died of heart and circulatory problems, her husband decided to donate her body to The Life Extension Society —an organization that offered to freeze a person for free. The experiment was abandoned after the company that was supposed to supply the capsule to store McLaughlin’s body claimed technical problems in the device. Although it was technically a failed experiment, it allowed the Life Extension Society to perform its first cryogenic freeze of a human being some time later. The first human cryogenically frozen – 1967
James Hiram Bedford was a professor of psychology at the University of California who became the first human to be cryogenically frozen and stored in the hope of one day being revived. He had so much hope in cryogenics, he left $100,000 for cryogenic research when he died in 1967. Since then, his body has gone through different companies that preserve human bodies. It is currently being preserved by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, an American non-profit organization that researches and performs cryogenics of human cadavers and brains. January 12, the date bedford was cryopreserved, is still known as “Bedford Day” by those working in the field of cryogenics. Geneviève de la Poterie, the first cryogenically frozen child – 1972
Jeté Laurence in ‘Cursed Cemetery’ (2019). (Source: IMDb)
In 1972, Geneviève de la Poterie became the first cryogenically frozen child. She died of kidney cancer at the age of 8. The Life Extension Foundation, an organization that was responsible for preserving the child’s body, did not perform the procedure in the correct manner. With this, the body situation ended up getting worse with no chance of being brought back to life. His body passed into the care of the Cryonics Society of California until 1994, when a technical problem caused several bodies being stored to deteriorate, including geneviève’s. The cryopreservation of a human embryo – 1983
Human embryo. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
From the 1970s onto cryogenics, it focused on preserving human cells for different types of treatment. The technique was already well known, but had a new breakthrough when the first human embryo was cryopreserved in 1983. The feat was achieved by a medical research team from Monash University in Australia, which in 1971 began research that supports IVF to this day. In addition, in 1983, the program achieved the first in vitro fertilization births using frozen embryos. This experiment presented evidence that frozen embryos for a time could later be implanted into a uterus and turn into a fetus. Since then, cryopreservation of human blood, stem cells, embryos, sperm and eggs has been involved in more than 300,000 births.
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